Welcome to Low Stakes Hot Take, a regular column wherein one of us shares an impassioned opinion on a seemingly random topic that probably doesn’t matter much. Or—wait—does it?
I’ve spent a decent portion of my free time, as of late, wondering what makes something funny, funny. This aimless and recreational enterprise has taken shape in various ways: reading the 800-page history of “Saturday Night Live” for fun, studying recent Netflix specials like Aziz Ansari’s new and controversial “Right Now,” alongside older sketch series like The Characters, quoting lines from Tim Robinson’s I Think You Should Leave back and forth with my friend Rachel, wondering who pulled the fuse on the bygone pastime of quoting movies to each other, and joining the rowdy 10pm Sunday crowd at LA’s Comedy Store.
So, imagine my surprise when I found that the Dutch, as a people, understand the most intimate secrets that I do not when it comes to deploying modern humor.
After a long Tuesday spent deteriorating my already myopic eyes one browser tab at a time, wondering if something called Shark Sauce was going to make me better-looking, and generally working myself up into a nervous wreck at the foot of my laptop, I went to a new gym in the new city where I live, and took comfort in an old routine: skimming and deleting a bunch of text-heavy e-mails while jogging in place on one of those Arc Trainer machines. It was under these circumstances that I discovered that the Dutch, in addition to “dropping” their young in the woods to fend for themselves, are very good at Twitter.
One thing you must know before we dig in: After close self-examination, it seems that my own sense of humor favors any reference that is berry-adjacent, as evidenced by the following Tweet I often return to, dating back to the medieval days of the Tr*mp administration:
— Walter Hickey (@WaltHickey) January 31, 2017
Were we ever so young?
The latitude and longitude of a comedic Dutch masterpiece meet at this Tweet, where the New York Times World account shared a story on how “the Dutch do childhood differently.”
The Dutch do childhood differently. Children are taught not to depend too much on adults; adults are taught to allow children to solve their own problems. And so there is the custom of "droppings" — leaving kids in the forest to find their way home alone. https://t.co/WHkBnMREMg
— New York Times World (@nytimesworld) July 21, 2019
It all starts off unassumingly enough:
I grew up in the western part of the country, where there are hardly any forests. In those areas, your parents take you out at sea and drop you there. You have to swim several miles back to the shore. Those without any sense of direction wind up in England.
— Nationaal Gyurka Jansen (@ThE_ED) July 21, 2019
And then, a testimonial:
It's true. My parents dropped me in a forest when I was 7, I lived of berries and marihuana for 3 years. Eventually I found my way back to civilisation, but I ended up with a family I didn't know. But we've made it work and I think that is beautiful.
— Rianne Meijer (@globalistaa) July 22, 2019
It is here that the Dutch tweeters gain momentum via strength in numbers, and demonstrate their keen proclivity for riffing off of each other, a skill no doubt learned while embedded in a mosquito-laden wood where they once spooned tree sap for survival. Not a “yes, and,” in sight, and yet…
And look where it brought you! Such an independant woman 💪🏻 Up to the part of the forest, my story is quite simular, only I found an abandoned shed and was raised by a ghost called mama. I still only eat berries by the way.
— Kim (@Kim_Amsterdam) July 22, 2019
That’s why we are so tall. Berries are superfoods, we knew that all along.
— Rianne Meijer (@globalistaa) July 22, 2019
I believe the short ones got lost in the tall grass or drowned in bogs – Dutch are statistically tall due to survivor bias.
— Jasper Klewer (@JasperKlewer) July 22, 2019
That's why i am wearing a hat. During my 30 years stay in the grass they mowed it. My hair as well
— John Dooms (@DoomsJohn) July 22, 2019
That's in summer. Winter is different. On New Year's Day, my dad would take me, aged seven, out to sea in a boat. He would row five miles out, then put me overboard to swim back by myself. Which, I must say, was relatively easy once I'd made my way out of that cloth bag.
— GJ Groothedde 🇪🇺 (@eetschrijver) July 21, 2019
You had a boat…
My father took me to the Pier in Scheveningen, put a ball and chain on my ankle and then threw me in the freezing cold North Sea to make a real man of me.
This all happened providing I could find my way back home from the Forest in summer.
— Rebecca (@MrsvanP) July 21, 2019
I reached out to my esteemed colleague and noted Man Repeller humorist, Nora Taylor, for comment: “I feel like this is like if people assumed American education was based on like Waldorf Schools. The one tweet that really got me was about giving the weak kids to Belgium.”
Consider my plane tickets to the Netherlands, where I hope to study under a Dutch comedy troupe, booked. Please comment below with recommendations related to foraging the most supple berries the country has to offer.
Collage by Edith Young.